The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate




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Crunch time has arrived for the 2020 Democratic presidential field as the second series of debates kicks off tonight in Detroit and candidates look to give their bids a shot in the arm as they push to qualify for the September debates. 


While he won’t partake in tonight’s affairs, the attention is squarely on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE as he looks to rebound from a shaky performance just over a month ago in Miami and reestablish himself as the unquestioned front-runner for the Democratic nod to take on Trump next year. 


While Biden has made a point to fully embrace the work undertaken by the Obama administration, that philosophy is showing some cracks ahead of the debate as he is expected to take shots on a number of fronts stemming from actions while he served as former President Obama’s top deputy. Among them are the administration’s record of deportations and treatment of immigrants at the border and his full embrace of the Affordable Care Act as some of his rivals embrace a version of “Medicare for All.” 


As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes write, Biden has wrapped himself in the 44th president, from using the same campaign songs to his telling of folksy stories on the campaign trail about their enduring friendship. When Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris honors Ginsburg, visits Supreme Court The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden vie for Minnesota | Early voting begins in four states | Blue state GOP governors back Susan Collins Kamala Harris: Black Americans have been 'disproportionately harmed' by Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility MORE (D-N.J.) questioned the former vice president’s record on race and criminal justice, the former vice president shot back that the nation’s first black president would not have tapped him as vice president if there were questions lingering on those issues.


However, Biden has seemingly adopted a go-it-alone game plan. He said last week during a fundraiser that he won’t use Obama as a “crutch” in his campaign and that his bid is not a “continuation” of the Obama-Biden administration because there are “new problems” on the scene that did not exist at that time. He is making it a point to look to the future as he endures criticisms that he is a candidate of the past and a bygone era. 


As Biden readies for his turn on stage on Wednesday night, he is buoyed by multiple polls that continue to show him in the lead. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, Biden leads nationally by 19 points, taking 34 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (D-Mass.), who will find herself taking center stage tonight, sits second with 15 percent (The Hill). 


While much of the attention is on this round of debates, some campaigns are looking ahead to September with the goal of reaching the increased threshold for inclusion at the next debate in Houston. 


Having already met the polling prerequisites, Booker announced Monday that his team reached the 130,000 donors needed to put him on the stage. Andrew YangAndrew YangDoctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls Buttigieg launches his own podcast MORE also announced that he qualified after earning 2 percent in the Quinnipiac poll. He had already met the donor requirements, making him and Booker the seventh and eighth candidates to qualify (CNN).


Heading into this evening, 2020 campaigns released a number of policy proposals on all kinds of topics. Warren stayed true to her claim that she has “a plan for that” Monday, announcing her plan to rewrite how trade deals are negotiated (CNBC). Looking for a boost, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperGardner on court vacancy: Country needs to mourn Ginsburg 'before the politics begin' Vulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year GOP campaign director: 'There's no doubt that Republicans will control the Senate' MORE announced his plan to strengthen rural communities, including an expansion of broadband access (The Hill). 


As for Harris, she released her own “Medicare for All” plan, drawing attacks from Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He's going against Ginsburg's 'dying wishes' MORE (I-Vt.) (The Hill). 


Along with Warren, those taking part tonight are Sanders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill EPA delivers win for ethanol industry angered by waivers to refiners It's time for newspapers to stop endorsing presidential candidates MORE (D-Minn.), Hickenlooper, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanMourners gather outside Supreme Court after passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lincoln Project hits Trump for criticizing Goodyear, 'an American company' Biden defends Goodyear after Trump urges boycott MORE (D-Ohio), former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE (D-Md.), Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson discusses speaking at People's Party Convention Fewer people watched opening night of Democratic convention compared to 2016 Marianne Williamson: Democratic convention 'like binge watching a Marriott commercial' MORE and Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockSenate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Pence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race Trump's fear and loathing of voting by mail in the age of COVID MORE, who will be making his inaugural debate appearance. 


The debates are scheduled for 8 p.m. CNN will host this go-around, with Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperThe Memo: Media accused of using kid-gloves on Biden CNN slammed for soft questions during Biden town hall: 'The media is broken' Biden's team says he views election against Trump as 'Park Avenue vs. Scranton' MORE, Dana BashDana BashTrump says officials will investigate whether California is using 1619 Project in classrooms Veterans Affairs secretary defends Trump: 'I judge a man by his actions' GOP senator dismisses national intelligence director election security briefings: 'This is blown way out of proportion' MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonScaramucci to Lemon: Trump 'doubling down' on downplaying virus 'should scare' viewers Cohen: Trump is serious when he mentions staying for more than two terms Cohen: 'I guarantee that it's not going to go well for whoever' set up Woodward interview MORE serving as moderators.


Politico: Warren and Bernie’s awkward truce faces its biggest test yet. 


The New York Times: Why Joe Biden’s age worries some Democratic allies and voters.


George F. Will: Some questions for the Democratic candidates.


NBC News: What 2020 Democrats learned from their first debate and how some are sharpening their attacks for the second. 


McClatchy: CNN’s Jeff Zucker once feted Kamala Harris. Will that help or hurt in 2020?


The New York Times: Ahead of debates, Pennsylvania Democrats lean more pragmatic than progressive.





CONGRESS: With the president’s selection of Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeOvernight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks MORE (R-Texas) to replace Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsFBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support Former Intel chief had 'deep suspicions' that Putin 'had something on Trump': book MORE as director of national intelligence, attention now turns to the Senate, where there are questions over a relatively unknown lawmaker.


When asked about Ratcliffe’s expected nomination on Monday, many Senate Republicans chose to say little. 


“I don’t know him. I haven’t looked at his background,” said Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Toobin: McConnell engaging in 'greatest act of hypocrisy in American political history' with Ginsburg replacement vote The Memo: Court battle explodes across tense election landscape MORE (R-Utah). “I’ll be looking forward to doing a review of his qualifications and experience, but not having known him before now, I really can’t comment on his nomination.”


“I don’t know John. I’ve met him a couple of times, seen him on TV,” said Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Second GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policy MORE (R-Wis.), adding that he still has to examine his background. 


One senator who spoke highly of Ratcliffe is Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Florida senators pushing to keep Daylight Savings Time during pandemic Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll MORE (R-Fla.), who noted that he has gotten to know the Texas congressman on a personal level, though he doesn’t know a ton about his record either. 


“Everywhere he’s ever been he’s done a good job and is a smart guy, professional,” Rubio said when one reporter inquired if Ratcliffe was too partisan for the job. “I don’t know how my colleagues feel, obviously. We’ll have some work to do,” he added.


As The New York Times notes, Trump and Senate Republicans have little margin for error if Ratcliffe is nominated. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSecond GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP senator to quarantine after coronavirus exposure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill MORE (R-Ky.) is unlikely to support any nominee for the post, meaning they can lose only two GOP votes if Democrats oppose him unanimously.


As for Democrats, they didn’t waste any time. Speaking on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVideo of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year Pelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg MORE (D-N.Y.) labeled Ratcliffe a “partisan shill,” adding that it would be a “grave mistake for the Senate to elevate this partisan warrior” to serve as director. 


As Morgan Chalfant and Olivia Beavers write, Ratcliffe grew from being an unknown back-bencher to a prominent House Republican over the course of two years, in large part because of his staunch defense of the president during the GOP-led investigation into FBI and Justice Department decision-making during the 2016 election, headlined by his questioning of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE last week. 


The Associated Press: Doubts emerge about Trump pick for U.S. intelligence chief.


ABC News: Trump’s pick for intelligence director misrepresented role in anti-terror case. 





> DCCC chaos: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was beset by turmoil Monday after a series of internal meetings led to the exodus of six senior staffers amid complaints from House Democrats about the lack of staff diversity and DCCC Chairwoman Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden asks if public can trust vaccine from Trump ahead of Election Day | Oklahoma health officials raised red flags before Trump rally DCCC dropping million on voter education program Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE’s (D-Ill.) inability to keep promises to various factions of the House Democratic Caucus. 


After a series of stories, Politico reported late Monday that after Allison Jaslow resigned as executive director, five additional senior staffers followed suit after a lengthy meeting at party headquarters. Bustos attended the session after flying back to Washington. 


The episode underscores the level of discontent with Bustos throughout the House Democratic ranks. According to one House Democrat, Bustos made promises to lawmakers of all stripes in her bid to take over the reigns from Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a main reason for the fallout she and the committee are experiencing only seven months after she took over as chair. 


“It’s the Monday Night Massacre at DCCC,” one lawmaker said. “Cheri campaigned as all things to all people, Telling blue dogs one thing, telling progressives another. So inevitably once in office she would disappoint them.”


Among some, the committee’s day of meetings was a source of mockery, especially after a largely drama-free cycle under Luján, the No. 4 House Democrat, who ultimately landed the plane last cycle en route to taking back the House.


More than anything, Democrats believe the party’s campaign apparatus needs an infusion of know-how at the highest levels. As one external source put it: “They need some adults in there.”


The committee released a statement late Monday announcing that Jacqueline Newman would take over as executive director on an interim basis and that the committee’s executive council will conduct a search for a new permanent executive director. According to one senior aide, Bustos has empowered the senior staffers on the council “to offer recommendations,” adding that she “followed their recommendations in this restructure” (The Hill). 


> Saudi Arabia: The Senate failed on Monday to override vetoes by the president that would have blocked his arms deal with Saudi Arabia, dealing another setback to lawmakers trying to target Riyadh. 


Senators voted 45-40, 45-39 and 46-41 on the override attempts, falling well short of the two-thirds majority needed to nix Trump’s veto, marking the third, fourth and fifth time Congress has tried (and failed) to override a Trump veto this year.    


The arms deal, which Trump announced publicly in June, is estimated to be worth more than $8 billion. Trump used an “emergency” provision in the Arms Export Control Act to bypass the 30-day congressional notification requirement to make the deal (The Hill).


The Hill: Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayTrump health officials grilled over reports of politics in COVID-19 response CDC director pushes back on Caputo claim of 'resistance unit' at agency The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE’s (D-Wash.) move raises impeachment pressure on Schumer. 


Politico: Judge seeks compromise in fight over Trump’s state tax returns.


WHITE HOUSE: Trump extended a weekend of Twitter bashing aimed at Baltimore and a powerful African American committee chairman, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBlack GOP candidate accuses Behar of wearing black face in heated interview Overnight Health Care: US won't join global coronavirus vaccine initiative | Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution | NIH panel: 'Insufficient data' to show treatment touted by Trump works House Oversight Democrats to subpoena AbbVie in drug pricing probe MORE (D-Md.), by lashing out at the Rev. Al Sharpton on Monday, accusing him of hating “Whites & Cops” and of being a “con man.” Sharpton fired back from Baltimore hours after Trump’s tweet, saying the president has a “particular venom for blacks and people of color” (The Hill).


The Hill: Trump says he’ll meet with “inner-city pastors” amid the racial controversies he stirred.


The Hill: House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump reacts to Ginsburg's death: 'An amazing woman who led an amazing life' Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE (R-N.C.) insists neither Trump nor colleague Cummings is a racist.


Niall Stanage: With Trump constantly dialing up the rhetoric on race, just how inflammatory could the atmosphere become, and how dangerous is it for the nation?


The Atlantic: What Elijah Cummings once told Trump in private.


The Associated Press: After Trump’s attacks against Cummings, the president asked advisers on Monday how the tweets played on television.


The Associated Press: Suburban female voters recoil as Trump dives into racial politics.


The president’s critics continued this week to point to his son-in-law, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerAbraham Accords: New hope for peace in Middle East Tenants in Kushner building file lawsuit alleging dangerous living conditions Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing MORE, as a Baltimore rental property owner with a less-than-sterling reputation (“The Beleaguered Tenants of ‘Kushnerville,’” ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, May 2017). 


> Clemency: Trump on Monday commuted the prison sentence of Ronen Nahmani, a non violent, first-time offender, citing “extenuating circumstances” involving his family. He was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring to distribute a synthetic drug known as spice. Trump, who commuted the sentence of another inmate and pardoned five others on Monday, cited Nahmani’s bipartisan advocates in Congress and in the legal community, who recommended his release (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Trump’s intelligence shake-up could be his most dangerous move yet, by David Ignatius, foreign affairs columnist, The Washington Post. 


Climate policy is expensive, but so is climate change, by Shahir Masri, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson; Briahna Gray, national press secretary for the Sanders presidential campaign; Emma Vigeland, correspondent with “The Young Turks,” who previews the Detroit debates this week; New Hampshire political reporter Paul Steinhauser, who expands on his recent Concord Monitor interview with Warren; and Elizabeth Spiers, founder of The Insurrection, who has written about House Democrats and impeachment deliberations. Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House is in recess through August and will return to Washington on Sept. 9.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a 10 a.m. hearing on the nomination of U.S. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hyten has been accused of sexual assault by Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser (The Hill). ...The Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee meets at 10 a.m. for a hearing about "Regulatory Frameworks for Digital Currencies and Blockchain." ...The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hears testimony at 10 a.m. from Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, about "Unprecedented Migration at the U.S. Southern Border: What Is Required to Improve Conditions?"  


The president will speak this morning in Jamestown, Va., to mark the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly. Trump will sign legislation titled the “Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service (LEGION) Act” at 4 p.m.


Vice President Pence heads to Lancaster, Ohio, to deliver remarks this morning at Magna Seating, a mobility technology company that supplies the automotive industry and expects to create 300 jobs. Pence returns to Washington today.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid House Democrats plan to unveil bill next week to avert shutdown MORE, along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE, is in Shanghai through Wednesday for trade negotiations with Vice Premier Liu He of China. The president and his top advisers have tempered public expectations about the outcome (CNBC).


The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting, which will wrap up on Wednesday afternoon with a policy statement and press conference with Chairman Jerome Powell. Many on Wall Street anticipate the central bank could vote to cut the federal funds rate by a quarter-point (CNBC). And while we’re at it, read this smart New York Times article: “A recession is coming (eventually). Here’s where you’ll see it first.”


Economic indicator: The Bureau of Economic Analysis at 8:30 a.m. releases a report on U.S. personal income and outlays in June.


Medicaid politics: Advocates for the expansion of Medicaid to provide health coverage to more low-income recipients are taking their arguments straight to the voters, a strategy that achieved some success last year in several Republican-led states. Campaigns in Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri and South Dakota are in the early stages of securing spots on ballots next year (The Hill).


Moscow: Alexei Navalny, 43, a Russian opposition leader and critic of President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin is about to turn his attention to the American way of life Putin critic Navalny posts photo of himself walking: 'Long' path to recovery FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden MORE who is serving a 30-day sentence in jail for organizing an unsanctioned protest, was returned to his cell from a hospital on Monday after developing symptoms his physician said could be reactions to a chemical agent and his lawyer said could be poison. Tensions continue to run high in Russia; on Saturday, baton-wielding police confronted protesters in what some described as the largest unsanctioned protest in the country in a decade (The Associated Press).


Cyber security: Capital One announced on Monday that a hacker gained access to 100 million credit card applications, and investigators said thousands of Social Security and bank account numbers were taken. The FBI made one arrest (The Washington Post). ...Meanwhile, Tom Bossert, Trump’s former National Security Council homeland security specialist who departed when John BoltonJohn BoltonDiplomacy with China is good for America The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep DOJ launches probe into Bolton book for possible classified information disclosures MORE arrived, is now in the private sector, trying, he says, to make malicious hackers feel some pain (WIRED). "If we don’t change the equation to something that actually stops and prevents and imposes costs on the adversary, we’re not going to get in front of the problem," Bossert said.


Bush 43: PBS’s “American Experience” documentary series will look at the “evolution” of former President George W. Bush’s character and how it shaped his time in office during a two-part program titled “W,” to air next spring (The Associated Press). 


“When history marches on, there will be a little more objective look about the totality of this administration,” Bush told an interviewer in 2008, his final year in office. “Dealing with liberating 25 million in Afghanistan is part of what I hope people think of when they look at my presidency. Being the first president to propose a two-state solution on Israel and Palestine. ...And I'm happy with Iraq. The right—the decision to [re]move Saddam Hussein was right, and this democracy is now taking root. And I'm confident that if America does not become isolationist and allow the terrorists to take back over, Iraq will succeed.”





And finally …  The next time astronauts break space-travel barriers, it may be for a manned mission to Mars. The round-trip journey is expected to take up to three years, and astronauts may have to grow some of their own food, making the question of nutrition a challenge. Eyeing a goal of food gardening, NASA plans to grow chiles in space. (For fans of the movie “The Martian,” chiles may be the botanical alternative to cinematic potatoes) (The New York Times).